What technology can teach the education sector

Digital transformation now represents both an opportunity and a necessity for all organisations and sectors. Education is no exception to this end and we have seen its incredible appetite for game-changing technology, freeing up staff to focus on value-added activities and achieving highly coveted OFSTED ratings to shine a light on achievements in teaching.

Teachers have become frustrated with spending too much time on marking, planning, data entry and management, which explains why the government is actively working to remove unnecessary workloads, helping teachers concentrate on teaching and their own development. Perhaps unsurprisingly, technology will be a key driver in eliminating unnecessary, mundane tasks and it was encouraging, at this week’s Education World Forum that the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, reinforced its role within the sector.

In his speech to education and skills ministers from around the world, he said: “I know there is trepidation in schools, and quite often in colleges, about the role of technology….But technology must have a role in our sector, as it does in other sectors, to be able to ease workload – which is a matter I know is of great importance for teachers in this country, and quite rightly so.

Reassuringly, it’s the sector’s passion and drive that has led to many working within the education market to adopt technology, achieving data-driven processes that can transform the way it operates, drive productivity and improve student outcomes. It is seeing data analysis as the silver bullet for gaining and acting on valuable insight. Institutions are starting to pull data from multiple sources into one place, and add in national data and benchmarking so they can get a rich picture of pupil data, events and trends. Ultimately, technology is positively transforming data management from a burden to an opportunity.

Statistical Evidence

The transition is backed up by our Advanced Trends Report 2017, which reveals that 75% of educational facilities now have access to accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions and help them keep ahead of the competition. However, there is some work still to be done in getting the whole of the workforce up to speed because the same report also revealed that only just over half (53%) of employees have the right tools to do their job effectively. Technology must be embraced across the entire organisation.

Grimsby Institute is one example of a college with an appetite for great achievements. Earlier this month, it revealed how further education software from Advanced is helping to create a significant increase in staff productivity. It is using integrated management information systems, and consequently its support staff are a whopping 200% more efficient on basic learner administration tasks. This is having a very positive impact on their daily working lives.

For example, staff across the college are finding every day administration and reporting to be faster, simpler and more intuitive, a transformation from what were historically productivity-draining processes. A standard procedure such as a student enrolment, completion, transfer or withdrawal now takes just five minutes – before the software was in place, this process could take up to one hour. This is a critical factor given the systems are used every day by over 70% of staff.

This is a powerful demonstration of how automation of standard processes can benefit workloads. This can free up staff, helping to bring together hundreds of staff to deliver even more positive student outcomes while boosting operations – and technology of this kind is within reach for all education institutions. Whether operating in the primary, secondary, further education or higher education sector, technology can help teachers and other staff work smarter and be more informed.

Integration & Collaboration

Even better if the technology is integrated with other systems in the organisation, such as finance and HR. Connected systems mean that student information can be kept up-to-date centrally, improving accuracy and reliability, and provide a single real-time view of student data for all employees. This delivers increased confidence in the analysis and trends that are revealed; staff can subsequently focus efforts on areas of weakness to ensure targeted improvements are delivered, resulting in greater learner progress across the board.

For us, working with Grimsby Institute is a fantastic example of how technology can support the incredible efforts of its staff to achieve outstanding results – and provide evidence of this success. Although the role that technology played was only one part of this process, we welcome Damian Hinds’ efforts to raise awareness of the critical part it can play and urge educational facilities to follow his words, saying: “we are taking every chance to make sure we make technology work for us.”